Shining Force II
Review by Sephirstein
"Besides Final Fantasy Tactics and Der Langrisser you will be hard pressed to find a Strategy/RPG that equals SF2"
If I remember correctly, SHF2 is the second RPG I played on the Genesis. While Warsong, the first one I played, was quite a good Strategy/RPG (SRPG) in its own right, it was lacking the graphics, balance (the original SHF's only major flaw as well), deep simplicity and RPG elements that made SHF2 the definitive SRPG for the Genesis.
Graphics: (10) While some may view thes graphics as disappointing today, they were incredible by Genesis standards when this game was released in 1994. The character and enemies were well designed, the towns were gorgeous (though the first SHF had slightly more diverese locales) and the battle maps were very well done(especially compared to Warsong and Lungrisser/Langrisser 2). All of these pale in comparison to the incredible cut scenes that the game enters into when a character or enemy attacks someone else. Each individual character and enemy was meticulosly and fluidly animated with countless frames of animation and only ocassional pallette swapping for certain enemies; however, This is more than excusable because there are so many enemies that you will hardly notice and its nowhere near as bad as the prequel which often featured bland, pallete-swapped characters and only 3 frames of animation. Besides this though, the graphics have evolved from SHF1 but have definitely not improved exponetially.
Sound/Music: (9) The music was catchy like in the prequel but the sound and even the composition quality has noticeably improved. There are great, non-repitive songs for many different situations (though nowhere near as many as FF games) and a few sound effects are quite good. The battle sound effects could have improved slightly as there is only one sound for physical attacks, one for magic attacks, and maybe 3 or 4 more for the more exotic attacks done by various monsters.
Gameplay: (10) Since I am not in the best of moods today (LOL), I'll be harsh and not give the gameplay an 11. The RPG part of the game rivals (but definitely does not exceed) the Phantasy Star series with countless locales and battlefields to explore. This is the one area where the Shining Force series beats the Langrisser series and FF Tactics by a mile because they do not have the greatest RPG elements. The meat of this game, however, is definitely the strategy-based battles that form the heart of gameplay. While the battle system is not as complex as FF Tactics or even the Langrisser games, it packs nearly as much depth to it and is at least as much fun. Battling is like a glorified game of chess where your characters and the enemy characters (there all far too personal to be referred to as units) move up and attack eachother with various forms of weaponary and magic. The AI and balance of the battle system has improved tremendously since the prequel and the battle locales are as varies as caves (which actually function like caves...play the game to understand), wilderness, indoor buildings, castles, towns, a volcanic mountain (sadly it doesn't effect the battle) and even a chess board battle. Characters can also be promoted to different classes (including some secret ones) when they reach Level 20. These classes ocassionally give them new abilities but mainly serve to allow them access to more powerful weapons and to increase their statistics faster as they level up. The promotion system is far more logical than in the prequel.
Challenge: (9) While not as hard as Langrisser 2 or FF Tactics, it is harder than numerous console SRPGs and in many cases, the challenge is not simply increased by making the enemies stronger and more numerous but also by making the battle fields more diverse and dangerous (one particularly fiendish one later in the game comes to mind but you will have to play the game to see it)it...muahaha) with some devious obstacles. I honestly cannont remember if i have actually finished the game without a cheat code, but I think I did so once.
Replay: (10) What's this...an RPG that earns a perfect score in replay? Well, this one definitely deserves it as the more Strategy oriented battles are quite enjoyable to play through countless times. Can you beat the Ouch level?...lol
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/21/99, Updated 02/22/01
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